Phill Price visits a British company that’s taking on the world
The editor visits Hawke headquarters and finds himself impressed
I’ve had a deep interest in optical devices all my adult life, trying to find the best binoculars, camera lenses and rifle scopes that I can afford. So, imagine if I were working for a company that designs and develops optics, in a purpose- built facility that overlooks a tidal estuary teeming with birdlife; I’d be in heaven! I was lucky enough to be invited to exactly that, in the form of the global headquarters of Hawke Sport Optics in Suffolk, that overlooks the river Deben, and typically for me, I was distracted by the wildlife throughout the entire meeting!
The stylish and modern headquarters is home to the designers, the warranty and repair team, alongside all the warehousing of the rifle scopes, binoculars and telescopes. Although this large building was purpose built for their needs just nine years ago, they’re already beginning to find it tight for space as their business grows, and I found it quite uplifting to see a British company taking on the world and doing so well.
A look through their catalogue shows an incredible number of rifle scopes, but I learned that they’re not all intended for the UK market; some have been designed for special purposes in foreign lands that would have no application here. Unsurprisingly, my main interest was in the airgun scopes and binoculars suitable for hunting, and even then there’s a huge choice. There really is something for everybody, from the modest Vantage 4 x 32 that’s under £ 50, right up to their field-target job at over £ 800, but they all have some things in common; they’re all designed in the UK and built to a very tight set of specifications, and they all come with the Hawke ‘no fault’ lifetime guarantee, that’s the same on the cheapest to the most expensive and is one of, if not the most generous guarantees you’ll ever find.
DOUBLE QUALITY CONTROL
The company was open about the fact that all their products are manufactured in China, with the simple reasoning that it’s the only way that they can source the quality they demand, at a price we can afford.
With over 20 years of proudly designing and supplying optics, they’ve seen it all, and made thousands of successful models in that time. Despite this, I was truly surprised at just how many of the products are run through a second, quality control process once they arrive here, which allows Hawke’s team greater control over the scope that you and I will buy. That’s a very
costly thing to do, but they consider it necessary to maintain their classleading reputation.
Of course, there can be problems with any product now and then, which is why they have a dedicated warranty and repair team inhouse, ready to rectify faults. Their overarching motivation is customer satisfaction, and all returns go back to the customer within 3- 5 days. If they feel there could be a delay that exceeds that, they typically replace the scope with a new equivalent, so the customer isn’t inconvenienced. Any faults are carefully logged in an effort to identify and understand them better, and the results are discussed with the design team in case a change is needed or could be incorporated into newer models. The fact that several of the staff are ultra- keen shooters is also a great help to the design team.
The data captured by the warranty team shows that the vast majority of apparent faults come about because the owner hasn’t understood how to use the product, so to try to reduce difficulty Hawke has created lots of web pages of truly useful information. Reading these can often help you to identify where a problem actually comes from, which could help you to resolve it yourself, getting you shooting again more quickly.
Today’s Hawke scopes are incredibly tough and offer guaranteed water- and shockproofing, as well as being capable of withstanding the infamous ‘springer two- way recoil’ that used to wreck scopes all the time. Not only that, but most are also guaranteed to withstand the recoil of heavy- calibre firearms, so we can be sure they’ll last. Other old problems such as the zero shifting as you zoom the power ring, have been eliminated, and reticle failure is unheard of. We really do live in a golden age for scope performance and worrying that they’ll let us down in the field is a thing of the past.
Just before I left, I was told about some new models in the design phase now that really caught my imagination. If they deliver on their promise, they’ll take scope performance to yet another level and I, for one, cannot wait to see if they make it into production. As I drove home thinking about the visit, it was clear to me that the staff I’d met had a real passion and belief in their company and I have no doubt that’s a significant part of why they’re just so successful. I’d like to thank the team at Hawke for their hospitality and the openness they showed me during my visit – and oh yes, the spectacular view across the estuary! www.hawkeoptics.com
“it was clear to me that the staff I’d met had a real passion and belief in their company”
ABOVE: Possibly the best meeting room I’ve ever visited!
BELOW LEFT: The design team is working on some VERY interesting projects right now
TOP: Scopes are complex devices and every part must be perfect ABOVE: They’ve been making scopes for a very long time
BELOW RIGHT: In- house servicing and repairs assure top- class customer service